Mar 312015
 

Carrot top pestoOnce you know how to make carrot top pesto, you’ll never want to waste your carrot ‘greens’ ever again.

My recipe appeared online and then in my book The Permaculture Kitchen. Since then, I’ve seen carrot top pesto used by loads of people in all sorts of creative and scrumptious ways. I thought it’d be good to collect some of those ideas together as a source of inspiration. The recipe for the carrot top pesto aka ‘CTP’ is at the bottom of this post.

How to use carrot top pesto

Bread

Carla Tomasi made these delicious bread sticks with black pepper and CTP spread over the dough before she twisted and baked it. Ideal with drinks and antipasta.
Carla's bread sticksAlso good is the CTP spread on bruschetta or toast with one or more of cheese, olives, veg, anchovies or shellfish.

Pasta

Thane Prince used the CTP to dress penne in this scrummy pasta bake with cherry tomatoes.
Thane's pasta bakeYou can just as easily just mix it through cooked pasta: just leave some of the cooking water in the pasta to help make the ‘sauce’. Or use it with ricotta or mascarpone filled ravioli or other filled pasta. Peas go well in the stuffing.

Vegetable Tart

Francoise Murat spread the CTP over the base of a puff pastry case and filled with tomatoes and delicious vegetables. Just bake till tender.

Easy- spread on puff pastry, add roasted tomatoes (vinegar+sugar+oil), peas +vegies, mozzarella bake 20 mins  = trop trop bon!

Rice and grains

CTP is ideal mixed into risotto or with farro/bulgur and other grains.

Roasted and baked veg

I love CTP spread on all sorts of veg including potatoes, oca, mashua, aubergine, courgettes, carrots (!), parsnips, onions which are then roasted. Use as a filling for that warming baked potato.

Meat, chicken, fish & seafood

CTP is delightful spread on all these to roast, grill or pan fry. Stuff it under the breast skin of a chicken before roasting. Slather on salmon before you grill it. Pop a blob on a juicy steak as you serve it.

Carrots a large bunch

Carrot top pesto recipe

Ingredients

Feel free to scale the recipe to suit what you have available.

It’s important that you use the young, tender carrot tops. The leaves & stalks from larger ones tend to be a bit tough.

100g of young carrot tops (a large bunch)
1 clove of garlic, peeled (you can use more)
50g whole almonds (it doesn’t matter whether they are blanched or not) Hazelnuts would work well too.
50g parmesan, roughly diced
150ml extra virgin olive oil
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

If you need to, wash the leaves to get rid of any mud and grit. Pop them in a big saucepan over a high heat and pour over a large splash of boiling water. Cover the saucepan and boil for 2-3 minutes until the leaves are just wilted. Strain in a colander and refresh with cold water to stop them cooking. Drain completely and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. If you don’t need to do this, then you’ll get a fresher result.

Dry roast the whole almonds in a heavy based pan or in the microwave until they are nicely browned.

Cut the garlic cloves into slightly smaller pieces which will help them blend evenly.

Put the almonds, garlic and a small amount of the carrot leaves into a food processor. The carrot leaves help the other ingredients process well. Process until the almonds and garlic are finely chopped.

Add the rest of the carrot leaves and process until they are puréed. You’ll probably need to scrape down the sides of the processor a few times to ensure even processing. Add the parmesan cheese and process until well mixed, scraping down if needed.

What you’re going to do next is to add the olive oil to make a fluid paste. Add it gradually, stopping to test consistency and scraping down the sides. The consistency I was after I call ‘falling over’ consistency so that the pesto just falls into the blades of the processor as it turns. So, with the food processor running, gradually add the olive oil until you get your desired consistency.

Then check for seasoning. I added a good grind of black pepper and a couple of pinches of sea salt and processed that in.

Keep in the fridge covered in oil.

 Posted by at 17:09
May 152013
 

Guanciale cross section view
Guanciale is the perfect preserved pork. It’s wonderfully versatile & tasty, easy to make, economical to buy & use and looks brilliant. What’s not to like about that? You can see what I made in the picture above: I’m so pleased with the result.

Guanciale means “pillow” in Italian, the reason should be obvious. My first taste was courtesy of my friend and Italian food mentor Carla Tomasi who sent me some from Rome. It was a revelation with a deep porky taste. It’s good raw, as a seasoning or a major ingredient in many dishes. When I got the Italian dry curing book Salumi for review (see here), I first searched out the recipe for guanciale. It’s ridiculously simple. The authors say it is:

…one of the most magical of the Big Eight cured cuts [and] some of the finest and most versatile salumi…

At the end of February I was fortunate to meet Huw Roberts of Oinc Oink our very local award winning pedigree Welsh pork producers. At their stall Huw had brought along some pig cheeks on the off chance that they might sell. They did.

I rushed home and got out my copy of Salumi. If you want to find out how to make your own guanciale, please read on…

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 17:24
Dec 012012
 

Salumi - cover picture

Salumi delivers on its promises. If you want a comprehensive, understandable, useable and enjoyable guide to how to dry cure & preserve meats Italian style, this is it. It’s suitable for the chef, semi-pro or novice home practitioner. I wish that this book had been published a few years earlier to save me some hard won experience.

Salumi: The Craft of Italian Dry Curing is written by the authors of the acclaimed Charcuterie – Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn. Rhulman has written & co-written many bestselling books about cooking. Polcyn is Professor of Butchery & Charcuterie at Schoolcraft College in Michigan and a chef/patron of his own restaurants. They both demonstrate a clear knowledge of the science of meat preservation coupled with a love & evangelism for good food, slowly & lovingly prepared and eaten.

Salumi is a tidy hardback book that’ll fit on your worktop while you work through the instructions. It’s divided into five chapters which take you systematically through the process from carcass to consumption. It’s illustrated throughout with really clear & helpful drawings by Alan Witschonke. It has two beautiful sections of colour plates which really do the salumi proud and show you what to aim for. Each chapter has its own mini-contents at the beginning and these are helpful to see the scope of what’s there, not just to help to navigate the book. There are regular boxed out asides which give added detail and explanations or contain wonderful anecdotes. The anecdotes really bring the book alive and give it atmosphere.

Salumi - drawing & picture example

They clarify terminology up front and explain that salumi is the word for salted & cured meats and salami are a subset of these which are dry cured sausages.

In the first chapter the authors first put salumi in their cultural and philosophical context. Now this may sound a little pretentious: but the way they express it is down to earth. While their book Charcuterie was about the French tradition of meat curing and confit; Salumi is about the narrower, more focused and more difficult craft (in their view) of Italian dry curing of meat. They say:

Nature is the greatest artist, we are not the first to say, and this is what salumi is really about: taking what nature gives us and doing as little as possible to it to make it the best it can be.

They emphasise the need for high quality meat and also that in using it you must be properly prepared. Their emotion about the responsibility of the meat preparer is eloquently expressed:

…if you are not prepared, if you have a feeling bone in your body, you will experience the deep humiliation of having wasted a creature’s life because you were lazy.

Quite so and well said. But the book is not all so earnest. The section the above quote comes from is entitled: “The Experience of Breaking Down a Whole Hog (Is This Your First Time, Sweetheart?)”. And their humour peeks cheekily through in many more passages and anecdotes.

The first chapter gives really detailed instructions of how to butcher a whole pig. Having done the job myself, the instructions are clearly from people that have done it for real. The drawings come into their own here and are very helpful. They say it’s hard work and needs from three to nine people to do. No wonder when I’ve done it on my todd, I been out on my feet at the end. There’s lots of good practical advice and tips.

Salumi - clear drawings

The second chapter sets out the basics of the science behind why and how curing works. They deal with the safety and environmental/public health issues in a way that reassures. Like scuba diving, they say, if you follow the rules – you’ll be safe. They provide advice about what equipment is needed and how to improvise smokers and curing cabinets. The chapter ends with a basic recipe and some rules of thumb. In addition to the science and careful weighing of ingredients, they stress that common sense is a useful asset to have and use throughout the process.

In Chapter Three they describe and give recipes for the ‘Big Eight’ Italian dry cured meats. These are: guanciale, coppa, spalla, lardo, lonza, pancetta, prosciutto and (basic) salami. Each section describes the cuts and its uses, flavour, cure variations and gives relevant tips and things to look out for. The recipes are clear and precise, the measurements given in ounces and grammes with aniticpated timings and yields.

Salumi - clear recipes

With Chapter Four, Ruhlman & Polcyn go “Deeper into the Craft of Dry Curing and Preserving Meat”. This covers how to make more complex salami, whole muscle salami and cooked salumi. The recipes follow a similar format to those in Chapter Three and I found really inspired me to want to get to grips with the art of the Salumière. The authors’ expertise of the technical aspects of the cure and how to match and blend flavours shines through.

Finally, in Chapter Five the art of how to cook with and serve salumi is revealed. There are six mouth watering sections which cover tagliere di salumi (the salumi board), crostini, pizza, pasta & polenta, soups & salads and classic combinations. There’s enough inspiration in here for many months and years of happy cooking.

Salumi - beautiful pictures

I’ve kept, slaughtered and butchered my own pigs and made my own bacon, chorizo and sausages. So I’m an enthusiast for the process and the products. I’m also, as this blog shows, a big fan of Italian style cuisine. This book will soon look tired and battered as it’s bound to be well used, thumbed and drooled over. It’s an essential read for anyone interested in how to make preserved meats, or who wants to find out more about Italian cuisine.

Disclosure: The publishers provided me with a free copy of this book for me to review. They didn’t impose any express or implied conditions on this and I have written as I’ve found.

 Posted by at 18:33

Haggis Lasagne Recipe

 Beef, Dairy, Lamb, Pork, Recipes, Seasons, Vegetable, Winter  Comments Off on Haggis Lasagne Recipe
Dec 242011
 

Haggis Lasagna in construction

I made a huge pile of haggis yesterday that we had with pearl barley risotto.

To continue the Hibernian/Italian theme, I ‘ve paired it with home-made pasta today. The roasted tomato passata, dried tomatoes and preserved courgettes are all bounty from the summer: saved for a winter treat.

I’ll add the recipe for all this very soon.

Nadolig Llawen i pawb…

Update: 9th January 2012 – I published a recipe for how to make the haggis element of this dish. I’ll do this recipe to completion nex.

 Posted by at 17:12
May 072011
 

Finished baconThe best thing about this is how easy it is. I’ll admit to being a bit cautious about doing this. Visions of strange moulds and smelly, inedible meat went through my mind. Well I found out that, as long as you’re careful about your food hygiene, it’s not a complicated process at all.

You get a triple bonus:
  • a sense of achievement from your home made charcuterie
  • the taste is just great
  • you’re not paying premium prices

The story started when we received half of a Gloucester Old Spot pig as part of a barter. Here’s what arrived:

Pork carcass

I butchered it into various joints & cuts for the freezer. I saved some so we could make:
  • a pancetta like bacon
  • some chorizo
If you’d like to know how we made the bacon, read on… Continue reading »
 Posted by at 11:24
Mar 312011
 

Don’t we all just love things that don’t cost a penny? Foraging for wild food is a way to do this. March is the ideal time to pick nutritious nettles which are jam packed with iron and Vitamin C. You’ve no doubt seen loads of recipes for the ubiquitous ‘Nettle Soup’, which is, of course, lovely. I wanted to cook something a bit different
Risotto on the plateI’ve adapted a simple Georgio Locatelli recipe for nettle risotto to perk up your taste buds. I’ve added the bacon as a seasoning and the dried tomatoes for flavour and visual interest to Georgio’s basic recipe but you can easily make a vegetarian version by leaving out the bacon and substituting for the parmesan.
So how do we cook it…
Continue reading »

Pizza Recipe with Oak Smoked Flour, Proscuitto and Olives

 Bread & baking, Pork, Recipes, Vegetable  Comments Off on Pizza Recipe with Oak Smoked Flour, Proscuitto and Olives
Dec 282010
 

I would like to deliver on a promise. I posted some pictures on Twitter yesterday of an olive and prosciutto pizza I made with Bacheldre Mill’s Organic Stoneground Oak Smoked Flour.  It was a 30cm (12 ins) deep pan style – the base was a great fluffy texture with a nutty taste.  The topping was redolent of hot Venetian afternoons outside looking at Vaporetto…Oak smoked pizza before bakeI received a very nice reply from Jethwa asking if I’d mind sharing the recipe. Of course, I’m happy to do so, here it is… Continue reading »

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